Women’s Institute stitches finger friends

For about five years, children at hospitals locally and in Halifax have been given a special gift to help them get through difficult or painful procedures.

Small, hand knit finger puppets have been keeping the children company, thanks to the dedication and determination of the Womens Institute branches in Pictou County.

The Womens Institute in Pictou County is attempting to get 1,000 of the handcrafted items completed by Women’s Institute week, which is February 19-25. The IWK hospital originally put a call out for the finger puppets, to which the WI answered by taking on the project along with many others they do around the community. It takes approximately a half hour to knit each of the finger puppets, plus the time to sew the eyes and the mouth on each one; some puppets even come complete with a head full of hair.

Not only do the finger puppets — which look like everything from people to ducks — go to hospitals, but they are also given to emergency first responders to give to children who may be present during an emergency, in order to help calm the child down or give them something else to focus on.

“Some procedures can be quite stressful for kids,” said Mary Smith, of one Pictou County’s WI members.

“The lab technicians said that the children appreciate them,” said Helen Cruikshank, also from one of Pictou County’s 10 WI chapters.

Finger puppets are not just comfort items for kids undergoing procedures though, often a sibling will take one as well to occupy their time spent in the hospital.

The finger puppet project is not the first project the WI has tackled for hospitals. They have also, in the past, taken on making pillow cases as well as quilts and receiving blankets. Handmade mittens and hats for the local schools are another project they work on as well.

“We sort of base it on need,” said Smith. “This coming month we’re doing socks for the Shepherd’s Lunchroom.”


Helen Cruikshank, left, and Mary Smith show off some of the finger puppets their group has ready to go. (Brimicombe photo)

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Heather Brimicombe
Heather Brimicombe is a Pictou County native and graduate from the University of King's College in Halifax with a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree as well as a combined major in Sustainability. She has previously won a Canadian Communities Newspapers award for a multimedia feature and was part of a team nominated for a Canadian Association of Journalism data award in the investigative category. Photography, art, sports and outdoor activities are all hobbies of hers as well as crafting, and baking.